By Tenille L. Lawson
Before the landmark 1964 Surgeon General report brought awareness to the detrimental effects of cigarettes, more than 40% of American adults were addicted to smoking. Today, the Surgeon General is not only addressing the health concerns of adults who smoke traditional cigarettes, but also the epidemic rise in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use by youth.
E-cigarette devices warm liquid into vapor that users inhale into the lungs. Liquid flavors such as bubble gum and cotton candy appeal to youth who may find the taste of cigarette smoke unpleasant.
Get the facts and know the risks!
The Centers for Disease Control states more than 3.6 million middle and high school students were e-cigarettes users in 2018. Many express concerns that the attractive packaging of e-cigarettes disguises major health consequences such as harmful effects on the brain and high rates of addiction.
The National Academies Press reports there is conclusive evidence linking the liquid in e-cigarettes to potential brain injury. People under age 25 are especially vulnerable due to lack of full brain development in areas that receive and process information. Inhaling substances found in e-cigarettes disrupt vital brain systems in young people, leading to challenges with attention, impulse control, and decision-making.
High levels of nicotine are a key ingredient in leading e-cigarette brands. Studies show 63% of 15-24-year-olds who use these products are unaware of their exposure to nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive. It is the link to increases in tobacco use among many middle and high school students according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. E-cigarettes are currently the most popular method for young people to use tobacco. Early prevention of tobacco use is essential to reducing tobacco-related illness and death for future generations.
Nicotine use and dependence often encourage users to experiment with other addictive substances such as marijuana. A 2018 report from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows 13% of 12th graders use marijuana in their e-cigarette device. Students who use marijuana are more likely to perform poorly in school, drive unsafely, and they suffer from depression or anxiety. Furthermore, marijuana use in adolescence is linked to higher unemployment rates and lower incomes as adults.
Many young people are unaware of the harmful risks associated with using e-cigarettes. Fortunately, information is available that provides facts about the potential dangers of these devices. To learn more, visit www.e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov.